Even though most of the Minnesota Vikings starting lineup on offense is already penciled in, there is still playing time up for grabs for many players.
Every year there are a handful of players who come out of nowhere and end up playing more than anyone anticipated. Last year, because of injuries along the offensive line, rookie T.J. Clemmings ended up starting at right tackle, while Stefon Diggs burst on the scene from out of nowhere. Let’s take a look at three offensive players on the Vikings who are in line to follow their lead.
Jerick McKinnon is a threat to score on any play of the game – a player who has the speed to outrun any player on the opposing defense and the athleticism to juke anyone who happens to get in his way. McKinnon’s only threat to playing time is who is in front of him on the depth chart: Adrian Lewis Peterson.
Adrian Peterson is one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game, and there is no way any other running back, even one as talented as McKinnon, will take his starting role. However, the winds of change are upon us my friend. This has started to become, and will continue to be, Teddy Bridgewater’s team.
How does Teddy impact who plays running back? The answer is simply a matter of efficiency. Bridgewater is much more comfortable in the shotgun formation, while Peterson is a running back who prefers the quarterback under center. It may not seem like a big difference, but the stats say otherwise. For his career, Peterson has run the ball 2,259 times when the quarterback is under center for 11,207 yards (5.0 yards per carry). However, Peterson’s stats drop significantly when the quarterback is in the shotgun formation (112 carries, 468 yards, 3.8 yards per carry).
Peterson is 31 years old and is ineffective running out of the shotgun formation. Teddy is 23 years old and excels when he has a chance to sit back and evaluate the defense (94.4 QB rating out of shotgun, compared to 68.0 when under center). Add it all up, and it’s easy to see this team will be Teddy’s sooner rather than later, meaning the Vikings will need to find a running back who can excel out of the shotgun.
Back in May, Josh Zinger wrote a great article about McKinnon, and if you haven’t had a chance to read it, check it out here.
Next: An offensive lineman